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Families Deeply Impacted By Autism Aggression, Study Finds


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Though aggression is not typical of everyone with autism, new research suggests that it affects many with the developmental disorder and brings significant and often lifelong challenges.

In a study out of Canada, researchers followed 15 families of male children and young adults with varying levels of autism. Of the study participants, nine families said that aggression is an issue they face.

In-depth interviews were conducted with caregivers in the families that cited aggression. Researchers also conducted home visits with eight of the families, but the ninth declined indicating that they were “pretty embarrassed” about their “damaged house.”

Overall, researchers found that families dealing with aggressive behavior struggled with social isolation, concerns about the safety of people and property, lack of respite care and limited professional supports as well as the added expense of repairs and home modifications. What’s more, the families were concerned about being able to find alternate housing for their child with autism as they aged, according to the study published online this month in the journal Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities.

Though the study was small, researchers behind the report emphasized that little has been done to understand the daily experiences of families coping with autism and aggression. Their findings suggest that there’s far too little support for individuals with aggressive tendencies and those affected by them.

Parents described an “unbearable” level of exhaustion, with at least one mother comparing her situation to being in “jail for life.”

While generally speaking families were happy with the care their child received for core symptoms of autism, most said professionals offered only limited knowledge and assistance for dealing with aggression either through medication or behavior supports. One family was actually kicked out of a home-based program for individuals with autism because of the boy’s aggression, with officials concluding that the environment was not “safe or productive.”

The study authors from the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary said they hope that the findings will offer insight into the type of resources families need.

“It is important to note that there were many similarities in families’ experiences despite much diversity in child and family characteristics, such as child age and type of aggressive behavior,” the researchers wrote. “From the perspective of the participants, there appears to be an urgent need for multidisciplinary professional services that adequately addresses aggression in individuals with ASD across the life span.”

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Comments (96 Responses)

  1. JMJI says:

    Want to make a “spelling correction to my previous post, last line should read ,”Everyone should read the chapter on Autism from the book “Far from the Tree’ to get a picture how we feel, and how desperate some circumstances are that as some of you may know have driven SOME parents to Homicide!.
    As a parent I can not express my sadness, is so painful to know your child is also suffering with this “condition”, feel that we don’t know what to do, where to go, who will take care of them if we are not here. I understand why some parents feel there is not way out of the suffering and before having a stranger at a state run group home or agency or facility, physically, sexually mentally abuse my child choose to take their lives. God please open some doors…!!! at least me I don not ask for him to be completely heal, just take away the aggression, the destruction, the lack of not understanding and defiance that take my son to hit and destroy and hurt us.

  2. JMJI says:

    I do think the numbers are higher than what was found…

  3. Ray says:

    The study while admiral units attempt to illuminate family challenges with autism does not come close in the severity, danger and lack of help for parents such as myself. My 23 year olds sons is littered with large holes in it from him kicking and hitting. He gets aggressive with parents and siblings weekly. No doctors or medications have helped. He has been in Sheppard Pratt several times with no beneficial results.the work place he attends says they cannot continue to support him because of his behavior. There is no place for him to go and the best medical help is lackluster and generally apathetic. I am one of millions who has lost jobs, spent thousands, stressed marriages, isolated, unable to attend basic social events and am terrified that the next 20 years will be worse.

  4. Jane Doe says:

    i would like to know what others are doing to prevent the explosive attacks by autistic individuals – what medications or other has anyone been successful with. Has anyone tried Majawana?

  5. Mom says:

    Our highly intelligent adult son was very angry, destructive and verbally abusive as a child. As a result of not being socialized, due to his autism, he had a rough time and so did we. He was put on psychotropic drugs when he reached adulthood. We have found that a small amount of psychotropic drugs is helpful. He has outgrown his destructive tendencies but still struggles. We are grateful that something can help him chill.

  6. Nadia says:

    My 17 year old autistic brother was for the most part a good kid. He had tantrums when he was younger but they were rare. Once he hit the teenage years, it just went downhill from there. He would have meltdowns over things that nobody had any control of. He would hit us and break things. He would run out of the house and just go outside running and screaming. We had to get a special lock for the door so he would not be able to go outside by himself. He refused to go to school and we couldn’t do anything. Bribery and punishments like banning him from the computer or video games never worked. It wasn’t like we could really enforce it. He was bigger and stronger than all of us. He is verbal but still has meltdowns. His school recommended we put him on medication. And those medications are often not helpful. It depends on which one works. We had to go through a trial phase with two different medications before we found one that helped a bit. The first two medications we tried actually made him more aggressive and/or had horrible side effects. The third kinda helps with his moods and makes him more calm but still it’s not a miracle. We still deal with his meltdowns and tantrums from time to time. It is horrible. It wolfed be OK if you are super rich and live in a big house with no neighbors close by. But not everybody is rich and we live in a home with neighbors nearby. The amount of screaming and noise he makes with hitting us and breaking things in the house is huge. Sometimes he goes to the balcony and just screams for a while. It’s very hard. We have neighbors and people are judgmental. One time they even called the cops on us and we had to explain that he was autistic and having a meltdown. Life is really hard. We cater to his whims a lot just to keep him quiet. Sometimes you just want some peace especially peace of mind. Life is hard but living with disabled is even harder. It takes a lot of patience, money, resources and again patience to deal with it. A lot of strength. Not for the weak. It makes me sad because no one understands. The doctors either recommend practical things that any sane person has already tried or they want to prescribe more medication. So will he go through his whole life being on medications? That’s more damaging than helpful and the number of autism is rising every day. I pray we find a cure soon.

  7. PM says:

    Read “The Explosive Child” by Dr Ross Greene. It CHANGED MY LIFE. Also read Alfie Kohn’s work – especially “Unconditional Parenting”. Life changing. We need to understand what the stressors are for these kids that lead to them not coping and expressing frustration and anxiety in these ways.

  8. Bill H says:

    I can’t believe what I’m reading. Next time your child attacks call the police! Press charges. Put them in jail. They are a menace to society (both physically and financially) and it’s only a matter of time before they hurt innocent bystanders.

  9. Sandy Deschaine says:

    My husband and I are also very saddened and frustrated with the aggression our daughter exhibits. She is on medication and a regular sensory diet. When is this issue going to be addressed? We also don’t know where to turn. The research needs to look into as to why some individuals with autism have melt downs and aggression. My daughter is 35 and she has to live with this every day.

  10. Kelly says:

    I am the grandmother of an aggressive autistic 16 year old. He is severely autistic, low functioning and violent. His parents have financial resources and live in an area where there is support from the schools and social services. There just isn’t a lot that can be done – medicine hasn’t caught up to this disease. He is in a special school, he gets behavioral therapy and there is even a small amount of money available for a few hours of child care per week. They’ve tried everything: special diets, vitamins, therapies, etc. The parents have done every possible thing, and been taken advantage of by quacks who promise a solution. The boy is now on meds to control his mood swings but the parents want him to be healthy and happy, not a zombie. Just because they want this doesn’t mean it’s possible however. And he’s still violent on occasion.

    His parents don’t talk about the violence much because their hope is that they can get him functioning well enough to go into a group home. If he gets a record for violence, then the only places he can live are institutions that lock the kids up like a jail for safety. Or he can stay at home.

    There really is no hope here, and it would be better if the parents accept that this child is not going to be able to have the happy, functioning life they wish for him. From what I can understand, the parents simply can’t accept that this child will need to be in an institution, and this is what is causing the most pain. I’m afraid of him myself, and am unable to control him. He functions as a 3 year old and understands just enough to be manipulative to get what he wants. If he’s denied anything, the tantrums are bad – kicking, hitting, striking out as violently as possible. All the other members of the family have had broken bones that they attribute to sports injuries… but I know the truth.

  11. Cherri D says:

    My son is 26 w autism & moderate mental retardation. He is a 6 yo in a 26 yo body. He had been extremely aggressive until at 15 yo it got to the point he could not stay in the home. We placed him in an amazing facility for a year. They tried several programs and meds. FINALLY they put him on Clozaril. Its been a miracle med for us!!!! He is funny and social. It has allowed the real him to come out. He still has his moments but rarely does he even use aggressive speech. Clozaril is usually tried when all else fails. There is help out there.
    And NO, jail is NOT the place for him/her. Whoever believes otherwise does not know what autism is.

  12. Anon says:

    Hmmm. I don’t know what will work for other families as all children are unique. However my son has become far less aggressive since I withdrew him from public school. They did everything they could, but as long as he was in school he was aggressive. Initially at home he was aggressive, but due to the lack of help from anyone anywhere at that time and having a younger child, I gave him a firm squeeze on the arm every time he attempted. I am anti-spanking, but I had no idea what else to do besides be his victim and let my 3 year old get hurt and it was not spanking anyway, it was a way of showing him my human limits. The good news is he stopped and no matter how angry he gets he will not hit either of us. Now I have him on several medications and suddenly a bunch of therapists calling me to take him in. He is using pecs cards and his own mouth to communicate his desires. It all has to be encouraged on my end but the more I am able to grant things he asks for the less frustrated he is. Of course he still gets angry if I cannot give him what he wants, but he knows hitting me is not an option. Usually he will just cry for a long time but he ends up in my lap hugging me because he seems to see me as a source of self control for him which he lacks.

    I really truly believe that the child who seems impossible to homeschool is the one who needs it the most. I feel more attached to him now and that is important. Getting him in home therapy is going to be huge for us. If I myself can help him I have big faith in qualified therapists.

    I say all this not to anger anyone or tell ppl to do what I do, but to try to be positive. I know that is hard and I cannot imagine having a grown aggressive child.

  13. Ann Bly says:

    My son just had a meltdown as we speak. Screaming, yelling and throwing things. Yes we are exhausted. I have numerous holes in my walls and have been spat at, kicked, punched and had things thrown at me too. He is 19 6 feetf tall and 300 pounds. He is becoming more and more difficult to handle as he gets older and recently these meltdowns have just been coming out of the blue.

  14. Ann Bly says:

    Just want to reply to Bill H. These are our children!!! Live the life before you cast judgement.We can not just lock them up and throw away the key, apart from the fact there is nowhere really for them to go. If there were more support networks for us then maybe this aggressive behavior could be controlled. We need help not judgmental opinions!!

  15. Cheri says:

    Living with the dark side of autism is painful and exhausting. My adult daughter has become progressively violent more and more frequently. She has just been taken for a 72 hour emergency evaluation. After years of trying to get help is this all that there is? To all the parents out there I fully understand. Not enough available resources. Crises intervention has failed before. My entire family has tried to help and cope with this. Where do we turn to? Not safe anymore.

  16. earning wings says:

    I work one on one with a non verbal 13 year old boy who has autism and the mentality of 2 yr old. This is my 4 th year with him. Moving from elementary school to middle school has been very challenging to say the least. It hurts me to see his behaviors, now out of control in his growing body, get in the way of his potential. I am disappointed the district won’t provide 2 staff to help achieve some success with our small directives and ensure more safety during his combative outbursts. He is a roller coaster of sweet looks and smiles to hitting, scratching and biting. Every 15 mins the entire day. This year is the worst hes ever been. I have seen him be successful in the last 3 yrs so its very hard for me to let go as he digresses. If the teacher and other staff feel they can’t help him anymore then maybe he doesn’t belong in this program. He is stonger than me now and we can’t go hands on for safety. This has been an amazing journey with him. He has taught me how to look at the world in a different way.If you don’t have patience, empathy, humor, strength, the ability to improvise, and just take it one day at a time then you won’t last long in the life of a person caring for an aggressive, smart, quick, strong, silly, gentle, never predictable, but always worth it-autistic child. He has inspired me to go back to school for occupational therapy. I do care for individuals like my friend and I hope to help others like him and lead the way to more answers. God bless

  17. Alison Houston says:

    My 11 year old son with Autism has been very violent and aggressive for years. While I love him dearly, my life has been a living hell with no relief for years. My son was put into a special school for children with Autism 5 years ago, and he has done amazingly well there. In fact, it only took him a few weeks to learn the rules and follow them. At home, however, he rules everything, and we give in out of fear of being hurt and having everything destroyed in our home. I finally started calling the police for help at the end of May and all through the month of June. My son was refusing to go to school day in and day out, and he was beating on me much of the day. The police came to my house at least 15 times in a very short period of time, and there were 2 or 3 days where they responded 2 times in the same day. They did nothing to help me, and in fact, they refused to transfer him to a mental health facility where we had a bed secured and waiting for us. They said that we had to do it, and even the rescue squad refused each time to transport him, even though he was calm and not hurting anyone each time the police and rescue squad arrived. Long story short, someone from Medicaid called CPS on me, and my son was taken away for going on 5 months now. He spent at least 6 weeks in the state mental health hospital, then 3 months at a residential facility, and now he is living in a group home. All of this has been under court order. My husband and I have had no say or input in anything. I am so sad, mad, frustrated and sick over the whole mess that I am truly in despair. The Disability Law Center of Virginia spoke t me at length and made some good recommendations, but I really feel it is hopeless trying to fight an entire county. My son has returned home now for at least 6 2 to 3 day overnight visits home, and the last 4 times, he has not hurt anyone, hurt himself, or broken anything. I had secured a DD Waiver for my son in July 2013 which was granted on an emergency basis. We had been over number 1100 on a waiting list! I fought like the devil so I could get this waiver and receive services, but now the county has lost it for me. My son would have had this waiver for his whole life. Now, the county is keeping our son away from us and billing us a ton of money that we don’t have each month. Chesterfield County Virginia should be greatly ashamed at the way that they have treated my son and our entire family. I have to add here that he does not hurt other people, only his family members. He was fully compliant at all 3 of the lengthy out-of-home placements. My poor son was deemed to not meet the medical criteria to be held in the mental hospital by both Aetna and Magellan (Medicaid), yet he was held for many weeks after this was determined. He was nearly strangled to death on July 4th, and yes, I have proof (photos, written report). He also was left in filth covered underwear which was also scattered all around his room every time that we visited him. I am writing here because I really need to connect with some other parents that know how hard life can be and perhaps who have had to fight in the courts system for their own child when all they ever wanted was some in-home help, respite, training, etc. alisonseeks @ achoo dot com (oops I mean yahoo)

  18. scott says:

    My son is 7 and I greatly fear he will end up severely hurting my wife and I he has autism and is violent. I also fear he will end up in jail cause of the violence. Jails are big money makers.

  19. Ann Jones says:

    What help can my daughter get ……. Cannot get any respite at all……. what happens to the child and younger sibling should my daughter have a nervous breakdown and becomes unable to cope ?

  20. brown says:

    Been seeing a natural doctor. His body is healthier now and we are starting to detox. He was so deficient in minerals and his constipation was dangerous. He is on a regimen of natural mood stabilizers that really do help. He is on a diet high in fat, meat protein and cooked veggies. He speaks to me on an increasingly frequent basis of how he wishes to murder us because he did’nt get what he wanted and that could be a very little thing. That is a heart issue and takes an amazing amt of perseverance NOT giving in to his whims. Now that his brain and body function without as much junk in the way, reasoning with him is more possible and he with us. He reasonedwith me once that if mom and dad were out of the way he could do whatever he wanted. I calmly reasoned back that he would still have authorities over him in his life and always would – this was repeated tonight.Murdering us would not get rid of his problems just like running away doesnt get rid of them. These ideas have to be repeated a few times per week. BTW he is 10 and has assaulted 3 times already. To be diligent enough to keep going in our efforts without respite is near impossible. Who can we trust for respite? Even when we explain what he is like to people they don’t believe us (b/c people dont see past his cuteness or through his incredibly devised deceptions/manipulations). Currently we are waiting on God’s direction and speaking truth into his life all we can. I feel sad for any parent that has to endure such a hardship without God’s help.

  21. Richard h says:

    My son is 12 he is autistic and non verbal. He was autistic when he was like 2 we had him diagnosed but he wasnt aggressive or violent until after his 8th bday. 4 years we have been struggling with him being self abusive. Our house has many repairs in the drywall where he headbutted a hole. He has been on alot of medicines to help control his aggressions some worked for while and then stopped. My son is very smart he has learned sign language for what he wants. Bread bath sleep oranges apples and etc. we always hugged and told him we loved him. He has very good eye contact you can ask him to get the tv remote spoon milk bowl cereal etc. he understands just about anything. He loves to listen to pandora toddler tunes. He has a ipad he plays his kids games nothing real hard. I think some autistic kids may have multiple issues like ocd anxiety depression non verbal not being able to express himself like if his foot hurts or a stomach ache. We have learned most of the time whats wrong by paying attention to his actions. With the multiple symptoms its very hard to find one or two medicines that will treat all of it. Since my son cant talk he cant tell you if he is dizzy or jittery from the side effects. We just watch how he reacts to the meds and try to figure out if it is working or not. For 10 years we have been trying to get him on medicade only to be turned down. Finally this year he was approved for medicaid. We have consulted with two attorneys about his social security the state keeps turning us down. Attorneys say if state turned us down for making to much money nothing they can do. It doesnt seem fair. We are making it. Just a little bit of what our lives are like with a autistic son. This is something i would not wish on my worst enemy

  22. Rhonda says:

    Hi I have a 20 yr.old autistic son. I am at my witty end with him. He knows how to act when he go out in public. When he is at home and he can’t get his way all Helps ~l breaks lose. He go from 0 to100 in a split second. He start hollering, stumping, throwing things.He is a big boy weighting 330lbs.and 5″9. I try my best to come him down because I live in a apartment and I don’t want to disturb my neighbors. Never mind any one else it’s all about him and what he wants,to the point where most of the time I give in because I want peace in my home. I am on the verge of having a breakdown. I have no help with him. My son is on Medicaid Waivers list but there is no telling when he get approved for it. I have no social life because of him. I had social services come out to evaluate him so I can get some respite hours for him so I can get a break and they said he was to high functionally for respite care. Social service was out at my home for 30 minutes. They don’t know the half what I go through a day.I have to prepare each meal make sure he takes his meds because he is a diabetic and he takes insulin. I am just fed up with the system for not helping people who are in need because if something happens to us parent’s what going to happen to the child. I am at my witty end I need to someone.

  23. Gail Reilly says:

    Nearly everything in this article resonates with me. It is exhausting to live with an adult child who has autism and shows aggression. For years, love and hope kept me going; the love remains but the hope has been replaced by despair. I rarely envision a happy future for my adult child – even less frequently for myself. There are few social supports for adults with autism and aggression; remedies are scare and often extreme. Law enforcement views aggression as a criminal offense. Group homes are not necessarily available, if they are the solution. My adult son is welcome to live at home while he transitions but enforcing boundaries is a challenge – it’s a constant, ubiquitous challenge. I want him to be safe in the world when I’m gone.

  24. Thelma K says:

    I have a 29yr.old son with autism his aggression gets worse the older he gets.He is 6ft.4in. 300lbs .I have been walking around my house like i’m walking on eggshells any little noise, or if you upset his routine all war breaks loose.I don’t fell safe in my on home anymore,i have called the police an nothing happens.Got emergency evaluation 2013 they held him for 4hrs. not 72hrs.Is there any help for parents of an autistic Adult Child with these issues?Because he is an adult an refuse to go for help here in MARYLAND there is knothing i can do!!PLEASE HELP ME WITH ANY SUGGESTIONS THANK YOU!!

  25. Sstipton says:

    My cousin is 6 years old and he hurts anyone in the house when he’s upset. I don’t blame it on the disorder but on the parents who let him get away with any and everything because of his disorder that have to do with interaction. Autism is a brain disorder and shouldn’t be blame for every bad behavior the child have. My cousin will be watching his program on the computer pause it and walk up and punch or scratch you for no good reason. He breaks everything in the house. My aunt had to buy at least 6 or 7 television in the past 2 years. He throw his food on the floor and refuse to pick it up when his mother is around but when you’re alone with him he do the right thing. He mostly misbehave when his parents are around or when he know they’re coming. That to me is manipulation and nothing else. His parents laugh at his action and blame it on his disorder instead of disciplining him and because of this they refuse to be in the same room or environment with him for more than a few minutes. My aunt would rather work or do anything but stay with her child. Saying she can’t bother with him or that he’s too much when she’s the reason for his behavior. Everyone keep telling them that’s not healthy behavior and that they need to put a stop to it but they don’t care because they leave him in the care of others. And then get upset when the caregiver discipline him by telling him to stop or pick up his toys and the things he threw on the floor the few minutes they’re around at a time.

  26. deenick says:

    I know how all you parents feel. We need to stick together, my son now 17 soon to be 18. Has aggressive behaviors and me and my husband do our best to handle them. I tried changing his diet that helps a bit and also take him to a chiropractor which he loves. I also give him natural teas also help. Need to give them things to calm there body and mind. God be with us there are things we can try the problem is the government will not pay for us to try these therapies. Praying one day they will. God bless..

  27. deenick says:

    I believe if we can try what we wish to to help our children then we can be at a much better place I love my son more then life it self. I know people who have made there children move forward in life with certain therapies. Like hyperbaric therapy. But it all comes down to money. Why does the goverment help us to help our children. Do they realize they have to pay for them by putting them away… That is not the answer… God bless us and our children….. Young adults….

  28. Steve J. says:

    Well, I’d say my families situation is pretty much the same as everyone else here with a low-functioning autistic child. I’m not sure how long my wife can survive this. Not like I’m much help but at least I’ve provided for everyone.

    Can someone write a ‘freakin article about what exactly life is like in an institution? It is almost certainly going to happen to my son and my wife refuses to talk about it. Maybe the State will keep him in a home. It might be possible but it would sure be nice to know what life is like for young adults in an institution. Especially for people like my son who have always gotten their way and still are violent toward their families.

    Maybe he would be better off.

  29. Kimberly says:

    My uncle is legally blind and displays lack in social skills; however, I do not know if he has been diagnosed with any mental disabilities. He is very intelligent, which sometimes can cause problems when conversing with people as he considers himself to be smarter than everyone and always right. He gets really excited, aggressive and enjoys getting in debates/arguments.
    My uncle, who is in his 60’s, lives with my grandmother (his mom) who is 88 years old. He is very controlling – controls the house temperature, turns the ringer off the phones, etc. He also has a horrible temper and constantly screams and will push my grandmother around if he is not happy about something.
    My family has always been concerned for my grandmother but she, of course, refuses to call the police nor would ever take action to put him in an institute. Although we cannot force her to take action against my uncle’s horrible behavior, we worry about what will happen in the future should my grandmother pass before him. We don’t know how my uncle will be taken care of, as no one in our family has the ability to do so especially under the circumstances. Is there anything that can be done should he not allow anyone to enter my grandmother’s house? Is there somewhere that we could place him?
    Any thoughts or assistance in how this kind of situation could be handled is greatly appreciated!

  30. whitepointers says:

    My god, these stories are terrible. I have an autistic grand daughter and have been reading as much as possible so I know what we may be in for. Hopefully not this nightmare of a life. I have read from some autistic parents that autism is a gift. Really, what freaking planet are these parents residing on because it is a nightmare that never leaves. If a mentally ill person who has schizophrenia displays these characteristics
    in the home and society whereby the police are called repeatedly they would be straightjacketed and taken to a mental health facility foremost for the safety of the abused “victims” ie parents, caregivers ect and then the safety of the general public. No one would even question this. In fact they would demand it of society. Autistic oversized teenagers and adults also have a brain disorder that can display the same type of aggression but no one steps in and DEMANDS that these individuals be institutionalised. I would like to know what the difference is?. In relation to the autism it is more essential that someone in authority
    step in and take over because there are I believe more deadly outcomes with the autism as apposed to say a mental disordered person who has schizophrenia. It is rare for a mentally ill person to be violent.
    They are normally docile and stick to themselves, whereas autistic persons can be extremely violent usually to the mother even killing them . Another documented result of autism deaths is that sometimes
    the care giver, usually the mother snaps and kills her violent child and then herself. I believe in the cases of very violent autistic children/adults that a third party should be involved that can make a impartial
    decision in removing a child to a safer place for all involved. Preferably a child protection agency specifically set up for these types of cases, because the parents sometimes arnt in a position to make a rational decision for the welfare of the entire family. Case in point. Kellie and Issy Stapleton. As an aside I had a schizophrenic mother who wasn’t violent.
    of aggression

  31. Jim bender says:

    Glad we have piss pots of money available for studies while we don’t have a frigging dime to help alleviate the stress of caring for some of these people who can be aggressive.
    My family lost everything it had trying to maintain a severely aggressive person in the home.
    We’re expected to provide exemplary care with absolutely no resources.
    We’re expected to hold jobs while providing. 24 hour a day care.
    We are expected to pay taxes for Canada’s entitled population to attend art galleries which are mandated by law and were expected to make the best out of relying on a system that is voluntarily funded. (Unlike the mandated/funded art galleries and hockey arenas.)
    God bless Robert Latimer.

  32. Stacy says:

    I have four children, two dx ASD. My 14 yr old has aggressive tendencies and is being treated as bipolar. Like others have mentioned, walls are covered with holes, twice I’ve had dealings with police, social situations are stressful, and fist fights are common place. He’s attacked me, I’m mom btw, his siblings, my mother, my step father and his older brothers friends. He’s been on an array of mess and we tried thou selling. He kept lying to the dr and counselor, which just made me look like I was exaggerating, until in front of the counselor and the psychiatrist I told him to be honest. Afterwards the therapists said she can’t help him due to his issues being more rooted in his ASD and that’s not an emotional issue. The mess help to an extent, but the truth is I’ve learned how to deal with him. I know if he’s obbessing over something that I have to wait for him to get done or give him time to adjust. I can’t demand things, and I have to monitor his interactions with his siblings as well. The hard thing is that he shut done on doing school work, I think he regressed when puberty occurred, and now I can’t get him to do any school work. I’ve been trying and I’ve asked numerous doctors about options, and no one has an answer for me except it’s my fault for not making him. I’m sure all of us can attest that making a ASD person with aggression do something is much more difficult then some may think. On the marihuana question, I didn’t have him try it, but he did behind my back per his older brothers pushing. He claims it helped, but I don’t believe him plus addictive issues are big in his dad’s family, so it’s too big a risk for my son. Good luck everyone and God bless.

  33. Stacy says:

    White pointers, the difference is that the other mental health issues that you are referring to are emotional based illnesses while ASD is a neurological issue. Therapy doesn’t tend to help ASD individuals. Also, what world do you live in in which ppl with ASD kill or are killed more often then other mental health issues?

  34. Stacy says:

    Bill H. Calling the police isn’t the answer. My ASD 14 yr old and my 20 yr old got in a huge fight a few months ago that resulted in emergency services and an ER visit for both of them. The police didn’t arrest either of them, but did ask if my ASD son was med compliant. In fact, they pointed out that while they can arrest my son that really won’t serve any purpose since its behavior associates with his ASD. They also mentioned numerous times that I do have the option of institutionalizing him. The police know that just arresting a person with ASD will not do anything except cost taxpayers money. Do you really think that’s the answer? Do you have any type of contact with an ASD individual?

  35. Patricia says:

    It saddens me to read this article.I love my Autistic grand son as my own but as he grows it is becoming increasingly hard to cope with his aggression.He destroys things hits,scratches, pinches and bites.I am 62 and have bad arthritis so he can easily hurt me just hitting me and does.I know he loves me but still he hurts me. There needs to be more studies on behavior of autistic kids. He is 2 1/2 now and if more help is not gotten for him I will no longer be able to be around him and that is not acceptable for me and my hubby.He does these things during melt downs.Like going from outside to inside or not being able to find his sippy cup and being offered a different one.He needs behavior modification badly.

  36. Sarah says:

    I am an adult with autism, I have better mental faculties than many who are lower on the spectrum. I am wanting to say something for those who are suffering with this disability and cannot communicate what is behind these outbursts. Please do not attack me or judge me I get enough in real life as it is.
    I hope what I have to say will at least give the parents some hope and ideas of how they can help their children or adult children better cope and address the reason behind the outbursts in the first place.

    i used to be violent, not as violent as the stories below I don’t remember physically assaulting anyone badly I have pushed my mother when I was a teenager and threatened her, I have damaged her home when I was younger in meltdowns. What brought these on is a build up of stressors that normal people do not notice or overlook because these are stressors that are only stressfull to the autistic noone else will even think of them. If you cannot communicate the distress and it is ignored or unoticed it builds up, and up and you feel like you are being twisted, beaten and hounded inside your own body and mind. As it gets worse your perception of reality starts to twist and distort until you believe you are in a battle and the world is about to destroy you and thats when you look even at loved ones with fear and rage as the source of your pain and distress. It does not excuse such behaviour and even doctors and experts do not truly understand this. Far more needs to be done and how it should be done is to include and listen to the voices of higher functioning autistcs and aspergers people adults of both sexes and ask them. We are the ones who know what is happening inside us and can explain how we experience the world to you. But we are ignored and treated like we are retarded and have nothing to say. This also adds to the stress and it is offensive and insulting. Even those who do not speak or have low IQ have feelings. We do feel and we do hurt. Where you see pretty lights we can experience blinding pain, what sounds ok to you can be like a concert at 1000db to an autistic. Our senses are far more fragile than yours. Researchers should spend more time on developing methods of communication so those lower functioning can ind a way to speak. I think the future should be having robot advocates this sounds weird? No It would be very helpfull to have a robot that is programmed to help autistics communicate. I have heard there is something like this in the pipeline already. Robots are not human, they cannot feel pain or get hurt they can only be damaged and replaced or repaired. Technology is advancing. The solution will be technology, computers and robots. We do not feel intimidated by a robot face it has no changing expressions and it does not judge, The robot could communicate to people this person has autism and have lists of answers taking pressure off the autistic. It could be programmed with the stressors for the individual it belongs to and warn or help in a time when a human would forget or not notice changing light, increased sounds, and movement and so on. The autistic can learn to tell the robot how they feel by pressing buttons they know mean different things. It isnt ideal or perfect but it could be a start. It is not fair to expect families to cope alone with us. I will say it I know how much my mother suffers. Much of my anger comes from being so alone and not understood and misplaced guilt at being this way and seeing her suffer. My family hate my guts and wish I was dead, I know. My cousin attacked me very savagely. Try and talk to some aspergers people who have it and see what they also suggest, More support groups RUN by people with high functioning autism would also be helpfull because who better to understand an autistic than another autistic?

  37. RBJM says:

    I am a father of an extreme autistic 6 year old boy. It has been a challenge dealing with all of his off the wall quirks to say the least. the 2 years of poop smearing was the worst. his lack of communication is the worst because we do not know what he is feeling or what he wants. our house was bran new 5 years ago. Now, if the land lord walks into this house we will not only be removed he will most likely take us to court for all the damages he has done to the house. He dont care what anyone says he will do what ever he wants to do and if you get in his way, you will pay in pain via scratching kicking punch pushing throwing or what ever. most of the cabinet drawers and doors in the kitchen are gone all the closet doors no longer work holes all over his room are housed with several pieces of silverware and god knows what else. half of our house does not have electricity because of something he did. He is 100 miles an hour every waking hour. until its time for bed when we give him three different meds to get him to sleep and stay asleep.

    Now lets mix in an extreme bi polar (His Mother) ASD children need structure they need a formulated plan for their days if this is achieved live in your home is going to be a great deal smoother. The problem with this is, A bi polar is no good with structure they can even take care of them selves let alone an autistic child that needs round the clock care.

    Then you have his twin sister that seems to be normal if there is such a thing. We have to spend time with her as well to to keep her from going insane.

    then you have me the father having to deal with an ASD son and a dont give a crap about anything bipolar. something is going to break and its most likely going to be my little girl or me. I feel that at this point he needs to be places in a home that can care for is every need every hour of every day. I love this boy more than anything but that autism I would love nothing more that to rip out the autism and throw it in the trash. Autism and bipolar is destroying my family.

  38. Gina says:

    My 15 year old son is 220 pounds, 6 feet tall. I am a single mother and recently his aggressive behavior has worst. It is so hard to see my son like this. I have holes in my walls, he hits me and kicks. It kills me that there are times I am afraid of him. The meltdowns are coming from nowhere. I can’t figure out what is triggering them. For the people that say call the cops or put them away, you have no heart. This is my child, a nonverbal teenager that cannot express himself. I can only imagine what goes through his mind. I pray for help everyday. The doctors don’t know what to do, the therapist don’t know what to do. I have isolated myself from the world. I have no life outside of my son. And sometimes I feel like I can’t do it anymore, but no one will love my child or take care of my child like me.

  39. renee says:

    I have a 14 year old son with autism. He is the sweetest, kindest young man. But at time in his life he doesn’t sleep for days. And extremely aggressive. At this stage in his life he is extremely strong too hard for me to handle. its hard for me to plan trips or outings because 9 times out of 10 he is unable to handle that outing. Which makes it unfair to my other children. But get over it. The hardest thing is that it seems people don’t understand. They seem to think that I’m high strung or over stressing the situation. I am a single mom and it hard to find someone to help because he is so strong. People say they are trained and can handle it but eventually they can’t

  40. Lori Jansma says:

    I am facing this right now. My son had both Down Syndrome and Autism he is turning 21 in August so aging out of school system. He went to a amazing private special needs school that did wonders with his behaviors. The adult world is not the same. We transitioned him 1 day a week since Jan to a day center and 1 day he flipped a table and tried to smack his aide. The wrote up a script and said he can’t come back till they hire a 2-1 aide for him and they have no staff so sorry. He has the proper waiver in place to pay for aide etc we just can’t find anyone to work with him. He will scream becuase he is non verbal and he will sometime flip furniture, but not often. He does smack and then laugh he does it to get attention, but again in adult world they do not or will not deal with behaviors and can turn them away. My fear is him sitting home all day and losing the valuable skills he has learned and given he has so much anxiety on change and going out to crowded public places taking him out is difficult. They need to start to focus on adult services as all these children will age out at some point and there is truly no support if they have any form of behaviors.

  41. Rose says:

    Wow!! Wow!! I have been reading most of these posts by all these parents. The similarities of the problems are amazing. I too have a 23 year old son who is autistic, and he is threating my life on a daily basis. When he gets angry he tells me that he’s going to blow my head off. (By the way their are no guns in our home. He is the reason why.) He hit me in the back of the head with a baseball bat a couple of months ago. He could have killed me. I did call the police on him…but did not press any charges. He refuses to go to any doctors or take any medications that are prescribed by a doctor. He is pretty smart, but he is too big and strong for me to handle. I was told that if I have to call the police again that they would take him downtown and then when they see how his condition is they will transfer him to the hospital and he will be taken into the mental department and be evaluated there. I believe that if he gets violent with me again, I will take this option. My boyfriend whom I was with for 20 years died of cancer last year and now I am alone and there is no one who can control him. I’m 62 years old and am finding the situation harder and harder to deal with. I am praying that researchers are coming close to finding out what is causing autism, and hopefully will be able to develop a cure.

  42. Joe O says:

    Just found this site today and can’t believe there are other families going thru the same thing we are . I just wish the God people would keep out of it. Let me let you in on a little seceret , there is no God, if there were would he/she let a child go thru this kind of pain. I once had a therapist me it would be better if my son had cancer because he would live or die and if he died we would never be the same we would morn him and time would ease some of the pain. Now with severe autism we will morn every day until we die. Just had a buddy with two autistic sons kill himself. No hope of a cure, billions spent in the 13 years we have been in this not one peice of useful information. Now what do we tell our typical children about having kids?

  43. katwoman says:

    My daughter has multiple problems one of which is autism, she is 25 and is in a group home. She has been there for the past 7 years. When she first went I didn’t think she could do it, but I was backed into a corner and on the verge of a nervous breakdown myself. I can tell you all this much…in the years that she has lived there she has become a NEW person! They have given her some dignity, independence, and a sense of routine and order that she did not get from me always giving in to her whims and tantrums (to appease her-and basically to shut her up…let’s face it we all DO it!). A word of caution; in the subsequent years that have followed I indeed DID have a breakdown, because 19 years of raising a sick/nonverbal/no instructions child like her is similar to being in a concentration camp. It can and did contribute to my (C)PTSD and I have had to get therapy ever since. PLEASE take care of yourselves people! We are only human, even though we love our children there comes a time when we may need to throw our hands up and say “I can’t do this anymore” and those are the exact words I said to the right people…it was the hardest most heartbreaking thing I have ever done. I tell myself on hard days…”I’ll give it 6 more months, and maybe I’ll bring her back home” but she has flourished there and to date it was the BEST decision I made for HER.

  44. Barbara says:

    More studies need to be done !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  45. Lola says:

    I just came across this article, now August, 2015, and am comforted that our family is not alone on this journey. Our 15 yr. old son with Autism/OCD/chronic tics was hospitalized 4 months ago for aggression and violence, particularly directed toward our youngest son. It has been a heartwrenching experience and a heavy cross to carry. He even got a diagnosis of Intermittent Explosive Disorder by his hospital psychiatrist (which I actually thought was a made-up diagnosis because it sounded so preposterous at first!). Our son is still in psychiatric hospital and we are praying that when he’s discharged he will not revert back. We’ll have some therapies in place at home for him, but we are scared. I miss him so much, but the safety of our other three children must take precedence. He’ll be in the hospital on his 16th birthday :(( I pray all of us get the help we need for our special children!

  46. Susan says:

    I am the mother of a 19 year old son with severe autism an as well he is non verbal. He has a history of violence and aggression that got so bad we placed him in group care at age 10. it was heartbreaking, however I did not know how else I could protect our daughter as most of his aggression was directed at her.
    Recently he was charged with aggravated assault for biting one of his support worker’s fingers off. He is currently in the psychiatric Hospital . It has been an incredibly stressful situation. As well, my husband had a severe brain injury last year and does not have the same level of empathy or concern as he did pre-injury. I am so concerned about my son’s well-being and safety. During one hospital visit one of the nurses said she believes “guys like Luke” just haven’t had enough “natural consequences” in their life – hence he is in the psych hospital now as a result of this. It is difficult to advocate for my son and at the same time try to educate ignorant people about autism.

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